James S. Cooper

James S. Cooper

Labor Guild Board of Directors


Cushing-Gavin Awards Logo

Cushing-Gavin Award Recipient

Father Edward F. Boyle Award (Auxiliary), 2013

Jim Cooper, a labor arbitrator for the past thirty-three years, got his start in neutral work as Governor Dukakis’ first appointee to the Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission at age 29. His tenure coincided with the newly enacted General Laws Chapter 150E granting public employees the right to bargain over wages, and the interest from cities, towns and unions was white hot. Jim hired over a dozen attorneys and labor relations specialists to help the agency organize the bargaining units, conduct the elections and rule on unfair labor practice charges. Much of the Commission’s former staff is still active in labor relations, and many will be here tonight to see Jim accept his Award.

Jim turned his knowledge and reputation into a career as an ad hoc and panel arbitrator and has been busy hearing cases and writing awards ever since.

“I like the variety of arbitration work —hearing new stories, meeting new people with real problems that need resolving. I really enjoy the writing. Arbitrators can’t solicit clients, so you never know who doesn’t like you,” Jim laughs. ”Being a landlord with a small law practice, the time flexibility works well for me. Even the travel is fun—mostly.”

“Arbitrators work alone which can be isolating, so I rent office space in a law firm. I focus better with folks bustling nearby doing their thing. I do miss the teamwork of our group at the Commission.”

“Connecting with people for a beneficial social purpose is what I love about teaching at the Labor Guild. I attribute those rave student reviews to the stream of colleagues I’ve been inviting as guest speakers since 1984. That goes for my activity with the National Academy of Arbitrators (NAA) and other groups, and catching up with old friends I only see these days at CGA Dinners.”

A Cornell University and Rutgers Law School graduate, Jim lives in Brookline with his wife of 27 years Susan Horwitz, a partner in the law firm of Sandulli Grace. “It’s Susan holding the fort at home that’s enabled my Monday night Guild classes.” Today, their son William is a Brookline High School senior, and daughter Phoebe’s started a new job at NBC News in New York City.